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Fujifilm to Buy SonoSite to Speed Medical-Imaging Expansion

Fujifilm Holdings Corp. agreed to buy SonoSite Inc. for about $995 million, including debt owed to note holders, expanding its range of imaging products used in medicine.

Fujifilm, Japan’s only maker of photographic film, will pay $54 a share in cash for Bothell, Washington-based SonoSite, the companies said in a statement today. The tender offer, which opens next month, is 28 percent more than SonoSite’s closing price of $42.24 in Nasdaq trading yesterday.

The acquisition will speed Tokyo-based Fujifilm’s expansion into health care as it seeks to diversify away from cameras and film. SonoSite is the world leader in bedside and point-of-care ultrasound with a distribution network covering more than 100 countries, the companies said. It specializes in portable ultrasounds, the global market for which is increasing more than 10 percent a year, Fujifilm President Shigetaka Komori said.

“This transaction significantly accelerates Fujifilm’s full-scale entry into the fast-growing hand-carried, ultrasound equipment market,” he said. The global market for portable ultrasound machines may reach 85 billion yen ($1.1 billion) in 2014 from 50 billion yen in 2009, Fujifilm told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo.

SonoSite had net income of $10 million from sales of $275 million last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company has a $115 million convertible bond maturing in July 2014.

“We had been interested in SonoSite for five or six years, but we approached the company last year,” Koichi Tamai, head of Fujifilm’s medical system operations, said at the briefing.

The Japanese company aims overtake General Electric Co. as the dominant supplier of portable ultrasounds machines within two to three years, he said. SonoSite has a 37 percent share of the global market now, Fujifilm said.

The announcement was made after markets in Tokyo closed. Fujifilm fell 2.2 percent to 1,841 yen at the close of Tokyo trading today.

Fujifilm was advised by Barclays Plc, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised Sonosite, the companies said.

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